Transfer Happens When I Teach What I Just Learned!

Your learners have successfully finished a course or learning activity.  They have demonstrated their mastery of the content, skills or even behaviors in the educational environment (digital or face to face).  Now comes the important element – TRANSFER to the workplace.

The literature is filled with important processes that will help transfer, including managerial attention/engagement, practice opportunities and even remedial assets that will reinforce the learning objectives.

Let me add “Now, Teach it Someone Else” to the list of transfer tools. 

There is significant research, including 40 years of work by doctors David and Roger Johnson from the University of Minnesota, which highlights the importance of a learner taking their newly acquired knowledge and teaching it to someone else.

The learner may be confident or uncertain about their new content, but once they are asked to teach, an internal process of “cognitive rehearsal” and self-listening occurs.  The learner as teacher goes through these steps:

In elementary school classrooms, the concept of asking the students to learn and then re-teach is used very effectively.  The learners approach their learning differently when they know they will be asked to explain it to others.

This process is so important for TRANSFER as it creates an important post-learning experience that actually cements the new content into the learner as teacher in a key fashion.

The other aspect of re-teaching the content is that it can be leveraged into a new phase of course evaluation.  Asking a learner about the class is quite different once they have had to teach the content to another worker.  They can be asked questions such as the following:

I truly and deeply believe in this process.  I design it into almost every LAB or Class that I facilitate. Try it and see how it works!  And, the learner can be asked to teach it to someone who already has the competency, as part of their process for gaining final readiness on the new content.  Learners as Teachers.  I like that!


Published in CLO Magazine, July-August 2017